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A mask for life

  • by JW


“What on earth are we doing producing disposable masks of such material when a couple of layers of silk and one of cotton will do the job?”

With a review of “the best reusable face masks discovered so far”.


We’re getting used to wearing face masks by now:

Wearing a face mask in Sidmouth – Vision Group for Sidmouth


But there are several issues with what type of face mask we’re wearing.

As noted by a correspondent:

Disposable masks are thought to have a lifespan of at least 450 years and as discarded single-use masks are washing up on shorelines and littering the seabed conservationists are warning that the pandemic could see a surge in ocean pollution. 

Coronavirus: Disposable face masks creating new plastic pollution crisis, experts warn | UK News | Sky News

‘More masks than jellyfish’: coronavirus waste ends up in ocean | Environment | The Guardian

In France alone, authorities have ordered two billion disposable masks, which often contain polypropylene that can take up to 500 years to decompose, making such masks something of an ecological timebomb.

Which face mask should you buy? | WIRED UK

What on earth are we doing producing disposable masks of such material when a couple of layers of silk and one of cotton will do the job? Not that cotton production is good for the environment either but at least they are washable.

How do I choose a cloth face mask? | MIT Medical


Are disposable masks washable/reusable?

This says No:

Can you reuse disposable masks and are they biodegradable? | Metro News

but this says Yes:  

Can you reuse a disposable mask? Yes, if you follow these steps

and this says Maybe:

Are face masks reusable and can I wash one? – The Sun

This is the medical advice:

Can disposable masks be reused after sterilization?

And from the US national center for biotechnology information:

Disposable masks: Disinfection and sterilization for reuse, and non-certified manufacturing, in the face of shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic

Perhaps the government should ban single use and only allow things like these?

Reusable Antibacterial Face Mask – Judd Medical

Judd Medical | Reusable Antibacterial Face Masks, Distributors of Single Use & Reusable Electrosurgery Devices and Surgical Instrumentation  


Knitted masks are useless:

Face mask study: Researchers determined which masks are the least effective – CNN

I think the way this research is presented is very poor, but this report does better:

Ranking the 14 face masks tested in Duke University study

I think it shows without doubt that 2 layers is not enough when using fabric. Other research shows that 3 layers and four layers of differing materials can get almost as good as medical masks. You need cotton layers and an electrostatic layer ( either silk or polyester) to get the best result and also some sort of pleating or gathering to increase the surface area.

These are the best reusable masks to buy that I have discovered so far:

EVERYDAY – Breathe Happy

Reusable Cloth Mask – Black – CASETiFY

Perhaps Sidmouth shops could sell them to residents and tourists? 

Or choose from this list of British made:

British made Face Masks – Coronavirus Face Coverings UK

High Quality Reusable Face Masks – Manufactured in the U.K

Adult Face Masks | Justhype ltd


I’m sure we could get branded ones too: 

Personalised face masks with logo, custom masks UK | Vistaprint


Meanwhile, in Torquay, the local rugby club is doing exactly that:

Gulls selling official Torquay United face mask | Torbay News and Sport | Torbay Weekly


What’s particularly attractive about these is that they are reusable.

Turn Lyme Green gives a little more information:




Face coverings have been mandatory in shops and supermarkets since 24th July 2020.  The use of masks is to be further extended for use in most public indoor setting – such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship – from 8th August 2020.  The rise of the use of PPE during the lockdown has, unfortunately, led to a rise in discarded items and organisations such as City to Sea have shown evidence of discarded masks and gloves littering the sea bed. This added layer of plastic pollution is a real concern and environmental charity, Surfers Against Sewage, has explained that although we are in a pandemic – we must not lose focus on the issue of throwaway plastic production. With this in mind – TLG is encouraging you to try using material, reusable face masks (as above!).  These masks can be washed and worn many times.  They are comfortable and a suitable face covering in line with the Government’s directive.  We are fortunate to have crafty people in our area who make these masks – and here is a list of some of our local makers who have a selection of masks for sale:

Devon Fox sell a range of attractive masks, including ones with bumble bees in sizes S, M, L priced at £10.00. The mask has nose wire made from recycled copper to give a really good fit. They appear on Instagram under devonfox-uk.  They are also on Facebook

Munchkins Miniature Shetland Rescue based in Colyton is a nearby charity where donations received from mask purchases go towards helping with the ponies.  Donations suggested are £4.00 per mask.  A fee will also be charged for postage.  Check out their Facebook page or email:

If you prefer to MAKE YOUR OWN MASK follow the instructions from the government website here. There are a number of other instructions and videos online for a wider choice of mask making!